The No Good Ex

I hadn’t thought much about my ex husband until I heard he had recently died. We were divorced in 1965.

If you’ve had an ex-husband or wife you’ll probably get this. That no matter what happens it’s always the ex’ fault, right? Mine did everything wrong – aside from being as handsome as a young Marlon Brando and having, at least in my mind, a terrific job as a film editor at MGM (he won an Oscar for “Towering Inferno”). He drank too much, he smoked weed, he went bar hopping with his high school buddies instead of staying home and paying attention to me, and he also fucked around.

But none of those things were why I decided to leave him.

I got pregnant. And at first he seemed to like the idea. So did his parents. They believed my having a baby would mean I finally would stop working and become a real housewife and mother. After all, it was the 1960s and that’s what most women did at that time. They didn’t have good jobs or think about their careers. Except I liked my job and I planned to go back to work after having the baby. I felt I didn’t get a college education for nothing.

That didn’t mean I wasn’t excited about having a baby – I was twenty-three years old and it seemed like perfect timing. In those days women didn’t have babies past thirty or thirty-five. I thought I’d probably never have a baby if I waited too long.

The day after a friend helped me make a maternity dress – you know the kind that looked like a tent so I couldn’t show off my big pregnant belly in public – I began bleeding. So badly that my husband drove me to the hospital. I sat in the car cramping and crying and all he said to me was “shove a pillow between your legs.” He didn’t want me to bleed all over his precious new convertible. He was going ballistic, and I was almost passing out. Then what he did was drop me at the emergency room door where my doctor was waiting and drove away. No I love you, no kiss, no I’ll check back later to see how you are, no sign he cared for me and our baby whatsoever.

I lost the baby in a bedpan a couple hours later, and the nurses wheeled me into surgery for a D&C to scrape away the remains of our twelve-week old fetus. Still no husband. I woke the next morning, and still no husband. When I called him to tell him the news, I woke him up, and his blasé reaction was, oh that’s too bad. I didn’t see him until he came to the hospital to pick me up three days later.

That night we went out to dinner with his parents, and they acted like nothing happened too. That I was in mourning meant nothing to any of them.

Except it turned out to be a good thing. At that point I knew I could leave him. I had no ties to him at all – no house and now no baby. And I adamantly believed I had a better chance of being happy without him than with him. So, at age twenty-five I did just that. After three and a half years of marriage, I divorced the no-good ex and lived happily ever after without him. I also kept my job.

Forty years later he called me from the Indian reservation in Bishop, CA where he lived with his fifth wife. He told me that he’d been alcohol free for fifteen years, was newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and still felt he should have kept us together in a little house with a white picket fence where still married we could have lived out our days together.  Too bad he hadn’t thought about that when he was out drinking with his men friends. Too bad he forgot it hadn’t been his choice to break up our marriage. I’m the one who decided to leave him.


  1. Joyce Goldberg says

    Great story, you were so smart to end it.

  2. You are so right, Joyce. Thanks for reading.

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